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Sunday, September 19, 2021

When Becca Huy sat down with her significant other to discuss their future, she made sure she mentioned that she expected to hear the pitter-patter of little feet.

Chicken feet, that is.

Years later, the 28-year-old founder of the local group Gainesville Friends of Hens is still advocating for chickens.

In response to interest from residents like Huy, Gainesville Planning Manager Ralph Hilliard submitted a proposal to the City Planning Committee that would up the current allowance of two chickens per household in the city limits to four or six.

The petition will go to the city plan board on July 25, Hilliard wrote in an email. If the city plan board approves, the plan will go to the City Commission for vote August 15.

Gainesville City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins specified that single-family neighborhoods — where two chickens are currently allowed — are areas where only one housing unit is allowed per lot. These areas do not include duplexes or apartment complexes, where chickens are banned.

Although Huy said the proposal is moving in the right direction, she said putting a specific number to the amount of chickens allowed may not be the answer.

“I think it would be great if we could have more chickens, but I don’t think the magic number is four to six,” she said. “If you’re first starting out, four is a good amount, but if you’re more experienced, you’re going to want more.”

At this time, the proposal does not permit roosters and specifies that chickens must be contained in a backyard setting.

Hawkins said that while the main concern with increasing the number of chickens is noise, owning more chickens is likely to be less noisy than owning just two.

“Because of the way (chickens) interact, two are likely to be more noisy than six,” Hawkins said. “Once you get more, they all sort of hang out with each other and tend to be less noisy and cause less trouble.”

Tyler Black, an Alachua County chicken keeper who owns a flock of about 30, said chickens aren’t necessarily noisier than other pets.

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“Hens don’t crow like roosters, but they do sing a song when they lay eggs,” said Black, 29. “But who is to say a pet chicken is less annoying than a dog or a cat?”

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